The European Union wants data centers to be greener, the supranational body said as it outlined its digital strategy.

The EU Commission noted that data centers and telecoms are responsible for a significant environmental footprint, and "can and should become climate neutral by 2030."

The decade ahead

"Digital solutions, and data in particular, will enable a fully integrated life-cycle approach, from design through sourcing of energy, raw materials and other inputs to final products until the end-of life stage. For example, by tracking when and where electricity is most needed, we can increase energy efficiency and use fewer fossil fuels," the Commission's digital strategy states.

Stockholm Nordic card


The international event that sets the agenda for data center decarbonisation

"Yet it is also clear that the ICT sector also needs to undergo its own green transformation. The environmental footprint of the sector is significant, estimated at 5-9 percent of the world’s total electricity use and more than two percent of all emissions. Data centers and telecommunications will need to become more energy-efficient, reuse waste energy, and use more renewable energy sources."

How exactly the Commission plans to ensure this shift is unclear, but it did say that it will undertake "initiatives to achieve climate-neutral, highly energy-efficient and sustainable data centers by no later than 2030 and transparency measures for telecoms operators on their environmental footprint."

Some initiatives are already underway, such as the EU-funded Boden Type DC One, a Swedish prototype data center focused on creating the most efficient facility possible, which we profiled for the DCD Magazine last year.

Then there's the EcoDesign Directive, a project to make servers more efficient, the voluntary European Code of Conduct for Data Centre Energy Efficiency, and tangential projects such as a five-year project to make fuel-cell gensets.